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Subject: When can you claim a majority? rss

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Jonathan Takagi
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I played this game mainly based on Big Woo's description, as the rules (which I cannot read) seemed pretty short, and the game seems fairly simple. One thing that seemed weird was that we would sometimes spot that someone had already won an area when we realized that the missing tiles could not fit. This was a little frustrating, since the score would change quite a bit.

There must be something in the rules detailing when you can claim having won a region. This reminds me of Battle Line/Schotten Totten, when you can show your opponent that she/he cannot win a certain battle.

Can you only claim an area on your turn? At the beginning or end of your turn? Or is it just whenever you spot it?
 
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Stephen Tavener
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From the examples and a dodgy babelfish translation, this is what I infer:
- the numbers on the tiles are irrelevant; each tile scores 1
- you claim a point on your turn if you can show that your opponent cannot beat your score (so, usually first to 4 tiles in a row with 1 neutral tile).

(If you check the examples you will see some lines that have been claimed where the opponent can still beat the total score on the line.)

 
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Scott Russell
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Numbers do matter to the extent that they are a tiebreaker.

So if there is one yellow number in the feature (row, column or block) and you have four tiles including the 9 (or the 8 if the yellow one is 9), you can claim the feature.

If there are an odd number of spaces in the feature, you can claim as soon as you have just over half.

(Below added with edit)
We played that you can claim anytime you spot the majority. It seems unlikely to matter whose turn it is, but there could be some cases where it might.

I'd say that if the player on turn claims his 12th, then his opponent cannot "retroactively" claim his twelfth to tie or claim a win.
 
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Big Woo
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qzhdad wrote:
If there are an odd number of spaces in the feature, you can claim as soon as you have just over half.


Hi Scott, I think you are missing a pretty substantial part of the game if that is how you are playing it.

You are in control of a row, column or block, the moment your placement can no longer be trumped by your opponent, following normal Sudoku rules.

If this was a solvable puzzle, and the entire grid would fill up with legal placements, you would be correct to say that this is when you get half with winning tiebreaker, or more than half, of the players' tiles down.

What you describe is probably true at the start: if you have just over half of the total amount of tiles that players can place in that feature, or if you have exactly half, but are guaranteed the highest player-tile number, than you can claim that area.

But as the grid fills up, that is no longer the only times you can stake your claim.

later in the game, there will be empty space in a feature, where no tile can be placed legally.

Example 1: a row without any neutral pieces, that has exactly four tiles of each player, with only one gap left, and it has to be the #1 tile. In other words, whoever places this last tile will have the majority of tiles in that row (5) and can claim the majority. But here is the snag: what if there is already a #1 tile elsewhere in the same block, but on a different row. Or a #1 tile in a different block, but in the same column as the gap in the example row? Placing the #1 is no longer possible! In other words, the maximum playable amount of tiles in that row is 8! In other words, since both players have 4 tiles each, and both players will never be able to fill the gap, the highest number placed by a player will be the tie-breaker. So the #9 wins the day.

Example 2: Same as above, but now the gap is for the #9 tile, and it is also frozen out because of "other" #9 tiles preventing legal placement. Yes, that does mean that the player with the #8 tile has the majority.

Example 3: one neutral piece in a row, red player has 3 tiles, including the #9, blue has 2 tiles. 2 gaps left. Say that both the #3 tile and the #4 tile are still to be placed. In other words, Blue can still win, by placing both. I would not be surprised if people didn't double-check the situation on the board. Because, if for whatever reason, both the #3 and the #4 cannot be placed in one of the 2 empty spaces (in other words: both pieces are frozen out of the same spot), then the blue player can never place both, never get 5 tiles row, and so red can claim the row, even with the 2 gaps still there and having less than half of the tiles that could go down in that row if the rest of the board was empty.

Similar examples can be given where some of the empty places are seeded with neutral pieces. The numbers needed might alter, but the principle rules that define unbeatable control stay the same.

Trust me, you would be amazed to discover how (deeper) Sudoku logic can prove later in the game that some rows, with only very few pieces in it and with lots of gaps, are actually decided already, because of other tiles elsewhere on the board!


Coming back to example #3, say that the #3 tile cannot go down in one of the 2 gaps. Red draws a #4 tile. What to do? What I have seen often is that when the red player will place the #4 tile in the row to secure it, and claim it. What is far better, is, if possible, place the #4 in the same block, or in the same column as the gap that can no longer have a #3 tile, but not in the gap in that row. You still guarantee the row, but you have actually made your tile useful somewhere else, giving it an even greater area of influence.

Once you realize a tile does not only have an effect on the block, column, and row that it is part of, but might well have consequences for completely different majorities elsewhere on the board, this game starts to give a whole new meaning to the word "brain-burner".
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Big Woo
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As to WHEN to claim. We play the same thing as Scott. Anyone can point out any majority at any point in the game, except you can only claim a 12th (or more) in your own turn (after the other player has placed, and made any claims they want to make - saying "done" is a useful marker between turns).

You are obviously wiser to keep quiet about the majorities of your opponent, especially the less obvious ones, but we kinda delight in working out the ones that are harder to unpeel, so we usually point out opponent's claims even if it means they get closer to winning. It also stops brainiacs from not claiming any at all, to make it less clear for the opponent how close they are getting to the twelfth one, only to declare all at the end of the deciding turn. No fun.

So yes, same thing. If someone only figured out in their opponent's turn that they had overlooked a winning claim already on the table, they will have to wait until their own turn to make it. It gives the opponent a chance to beat them to that 12th claim. I suppose it is cleaner to only make claims in your own turn, but since a declaration in your opponent's turn is only giving them more information about the inevitable, I can't see any reason why you couldn't. Same about declaring majorities made by others. You are probably smarter for not doing that (just remembering them instead, so you know if the 12th one is looming). But if you declare one of theirs, you are only giving them an advantage, and yourself, maybe, a clearer board to look at, where undecided areas are simply easier to spot, so I can see no reason why you couldn't.


I do recommend our house rule that when you draw a number tile that can no longer be played, you discard it and immediately redraw until you get one that can be played. This will mostly happen in the endgame, when not being able to play a tile is murder, and also random punitive chaos that sits ill with the level of clever placement required to get to an interesting endgame in the first place. Without this "house-fix", we wouldn't rate the game as high as we do.

I have little problem with not getting any high numbers early in the game, it is the sort of luck level that I can handle, especially here, when you then by definition are starting to draw similar tiles at the low end, that allow you to start on a placement strategy that will set up plenty of #3 examples. Only when you are still not getting any until the real end of the game, when they in all likelihood have become unplayable, does this become an this an issue, but not a game deciding one. I just see that as one of those extra life's challenges that has its own interest.
 
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